Lead Scoring: What, Why, and How

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We’re all for anything that gives marketers intelligence about a prospect’s sales readiness and enhances the quality of leads that sales has to work with. Lead scoring is a fine, flexible tool that does just that; let’s take a look.

What is Lead Scoring?

Lead scoring” is the practice of assigning a numerical value to a prospect’s actions and characteristics. It’s a step in lead management and qualification, an organized way to quantify and visualize a lead’s current location in the sales funnel. We often look at leads in two dimensions: identity and interests. When we use lead scoring, we gain a third dimension: time.

  • Scoring supports lead nurturing, which is all about meeting buyers where they are, and escorting them through the funnel. Scoring lets marketing know when a prospect crosses a threshold, so the right next step can be executed.
  • Scoring supports sales by identifying ready opportunities for immediate action. Marketing will be able to gives sales the most qualified leads in the system, scored on a basis sales helped create.

Why Lead Scoring is Important?

Online leads go cold quickly. Lead scoring is an effective way to prioritize leads, giving sales the opportunity to further qualify the most ready leads at the right time, and giving marketing a basis to apply nurturing.
The 2012 MarketingSherpa B2B Benchmark Report notes that on average, “organizations that currently use lead scoring experience a 77% lift in lead generation ROI, over organizations that do not currently use lead scoring.” The report also notes that “73% of B2B leads are not sales-ready,” so nurturing remains important. And the more you know about what stage your leads are in, the better your pipeline forecasts will be, also. It’s all about revenue.

Does Your Business Need Lead Scoring?

If your lead volume is higher than you can manage manually and it’s hard to tell which leads are ready for sales and which need to be nurtured, then lead scoring can help you. You’ll need a marketing automation system with lead scoring capabilities (like Act-On Software), and the ability to create or adapt an organizational process to support lead scoring.

How to Utilize Lead Scoring

To do lead scoring well, you need to understand your buyers; to understand your buyers, you need to talk to your sales department. What are the titles of the people who actually make the decision to buy? What are the actions they take before buying? What are the attributes and actions of serious prospective customers who progress to become buyers?

Map out the profile and buyer’s journey of your existing best customers. Work with your sales leaders to learn what the cues and clues are, and score those. Collaborate. Develop common definitions of readiness, and share the same terminology to describe them.

  • “Explicit” data is information a prospect provides or that you can discern, such as company, size, industry, location, job title, budget, timeline, and so on. Give higher scores to data that matches that of your best customers.
  • “Implicit” data is observed and behavioral, such as email opens and click-throughs, attending a webinar, downloading a white paper, visiting certain pages on the website. Give higher scores to those actions that have led to sales in the past.

The first time you set up your scoring rules it may be difficult to know what values to assign to each attribute and behavior. Get your sales department’s input; this is another process for which sales and marketing alignment is absolutely critical.

Here’s a simple model as an example of implicit behavior scoring:

Once you determine what you’ll score and how to weight it, let the process run for some period of time, perhaps 90 days, then recalibrate. Remember also that lead scoring should be dynamic; as your website changes or you identify new attributes and behaviors, optimize your scoring… then rinse and repeat.

Ready to give it a try? Contact us to learn more about how marketing automation can help you gain valuable intelligence about potential prospects.